Thursday, 16 October 2014 09:05

To Sask premier: Carbon capture isn’t worth the money

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While Brad Wall may be proud of his shiny new carbon capture plant (CCS), it does pose a lot of questions for taxpayers.
For example, the cost of it was as much as three year’s worth of highway budgets. Is it worth it?
Another problem is over a projected 20-year life cycle, it will capture CO2 at a too costly $100 per tonne. If our future includes a $40 per tonne carbon tax, it seems to me that would be a more cost effective way of getting everyone to curb their carbon emissions rather than capturing emissions after the fact.
How about planting trees? If we plant 400 square kilometres of trees (one-thousandth of Saskatchewan’s prairie landscape), that would capture one million tonnes of CO2 every year, the same as the CCS plant. Such a block of trees would be cheaper to plant, by far cheaper to operate, and would last much longer than the CCS plant.
Since the world has adopted a goal of reducing CO2 emissions to 2005 levels by 2020, we would only need to plant 800-square kilometres of trees to offset our coal-fired plant’s share.
Unfortunately for us, that would probably be futile. You see, the tar sands plants in northern Alberta bulldoze 400 square kilometres of trees every year to get at the tar sands. How terrible. The potentially greatest single polluter in Canada is bulldozing the very trees that capture the pollution for free. Can no one stop such madness?
Perhaps the solution would be to include the replacement cost of those trees in the price of every barrel of bitumen. That would price bitumen out of the market and finally put a stop to the tar sands development.
In the end, if we follow the principles that an ounce of prevention is cheaper than a pound of cure and Mother Nature can do it better, I don’t think we can go wrong.
Tom Shelstad, Swift Current

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